Space debris orbit determination method with the use of onboard facilities of a spacecraft

Space technics and technology


Sokolov N. L.

Central Research Institute of Machine Building, 4, Pionerskaya st., Korolev, Moscow region, 141070, Russia


Flight safety of spacecraft (SC) in the space debris environment has become significantly important.
One of the main conditions for the solution to this problem is prompt determination of space debris orbit parameters. It allows to estimate characteristics of its rendezvous with controlled spacecraft.
It should be noted that detection of small-sized space debris fragments by ground-based facilities is rather difficult. So the solution to this task using onboard facilities has great current interest. The analytical method proposed in this work allows to determine space debris orbit parameters with the help of measurements of spacecraft onboard facilities.
The method is based on the transformation of initial system of differential spacecraft motion equations with the use of a number of proved assumptions and composition of final calculation dependencies for calculation of time and spacecraft angular position between two measurement moments following each other. It is supposed that space debris fragments are located in the visibility zone of onboard optical sensors.
The computational errors and calculation duration are estimated.
The numerical and graphic materials are introduced. It is shown that during the spacecraft motion along the low circular orbits with the calculation intervals of no more than 100 seconds the computational errors do not exceed 0,1 %. There is the same level of computational errors during the determination of parameters of high elliptical orbits with the eccentricity of up to 0,7 in the conditions of reducing the measurement intervals to 20-25 seconds.
The proposed method provides calculation of orbit parameters of space debris fragments in the wide range of initial conditions for the required calculation accuracy. The computational errors can be reduced due to the increase of a number of measurements and use of the known data filtering and smoothing algorithms. At the same time, for the final estimation of accuracy characteristics it is necessary to consider different perturbing factors influencing on the motion dynamics of spacecraft. First of all, they include changes of ballistic coefficients during the flight.


spacecraft, space debris, orbit parameters, onboard measurement facilities, analytical method, transformation of equation system, computational errors


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